Folk interested in dance will have heard that Merce Cunningham died this Monday past. He was a bit over 90. Here are three videos; the last is particularly interesting.
The piece he made for the Melbourne International Festival when he came out to Australia in 2007.
Fascinating looking footage of Merce dancing to music by John Cage. I’m guessing late ’60s, early ’70s.
Cunningham showing a piece, and talking and reminiscing about dance last year. Talking, too, with his hands, ‘There seem to me three ways to go through space, across space. Either down, or straight across, or up. So that there’s a certain kind of way [mumble] you could categorise movement. Which is okay. I don’t really like that myself. But just remembering at the same time that with these limits there is an endless variety of ways of using them.’
And then, marvelously [4:35 mark]:
‘Graham [presumably Martha Graham, whom he had trained with] said to us one day that there were some visitors coming tomorrow … so would we all look respectable, is what she was hinting at. So we were in class, started, and these three ladies apppeared … middle-aged ladies, one whom I recognised as Katherine Cornell, the actress, and I knew she was friends with Graham … ushered in and seated. And we finally caught on … that this was Helen Keller, with her assistant to, er … this is Keller’s hand and the assistant would tell her what’s going on. [Makes motions showing one hand gesticulating into the palm of the other. Click on Keller link above to see her amazing hand communication.]
And at the end of the class she apparently through her assistant asked Graham if she could touch a dancer. So Graham asked me to stand at the barre [mumble] and Helen Keller was brought over and her hands were placed around my waist – they were like birds (chuckles), still feel it, remarkable something. And I couldn’t move around, so I did little jumps, very small, this way so there was some kind of … and she said, and I understood what she said, “So light, like the mind.” ‘